The University of Salford is to become the first UK higher education institution to partner with the government of Bahrain to offer its degrees through a new campus in the country.
The British College of Bahrain, a partnership with the country’s royal family, will offer a range of Salford undergraduate degrees in science and technology disciplines at a purpose-built campus in Janabiyah.
Salford said that it expected to enrol a first cohort of up to 100 students in September 2017, with plans for “significant growth” in following years.
The move comes despite continuing criticism of the human rights situation in Bahrain, which is described by Human Rights Watch as being “highly problematic”. Amnesty International says that opposition leaders remain imprisoned and that torture is still common.
An academic study published earlier this year, which used the delivery of medical education in Bahrain by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland as a case study, warned that universities which did not try to uphold human rights in the countries where they operated could face legal challenges at home.
Helen Marshall, Salford’s vice-chancellor, described the new college as a “great opportunity for both parties”.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to give young people in Bahrain and the Middle East the benefit of a world-class education and knowledge that the University of Salford can provide,” Professor Marshall said. “The University of Salford was recently named in the top 200 most international universities in the world and this initiative will only help us to grow our international reach.”
A database maintained by the Cross-Border Education Research Team at the State University of New York at Albany suggests that Bahrain remains a relatively untapped market for overseas campuses, with AMA International University-Bahrain, a branch campus of the Philippines-based AMA University, the only outpost listed alongside the RCSI.
New York Institute of Technology closed its Bahrain campus in 2014.
Salford said that curricula at the new college would be “based on that delivered to Salford students”, with adaptations being made according to “input from regional industrial figures”.
Courses on offer will include computer science, petroleum and mechanical engineering, and civil engineering. It is hoped that the new initiative will allow Bahrain to reduce its reliance on international workers in these sectors.